Curtis Salgado, an Everett-born blues singer-songwriter, will perform Feb. 28 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Joe Rosen)

Curtis Salgado, an Everett-born blues singer-songwriter, will perform Feb. 28 at the Historic Everett Theatre. (Joe Rosen)

‘Blues Brothers’ inspiration Salgado returns to birthplace

The singer-songwriter will perform Feb. 28 in Everett, “one of my favorite gigs.”

He’s the Northwest blues legend who inspired a Hollywood legend: “Joliet” Jake Blues of “The Blues Brothers.”

Curtis Salgado will return to Everett, where he was born 66 years ago, to perform blues, R&B and soul with his band. The show’s set for 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Historic Everett Theatre.

“It’s one of my favorite gigs,” Salgado said of shows in his hometown. “I’m going to give the people a good show and knock out a few new songs they haven’t heard. We like to take them on a little musical journey.”

Salgado is the winner of the Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, as well as the Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, Soul Blues Album of the Year and Song of the Year. Salgado has released 10 albums since 1991, receiving acclaim as a “a blues icon” with a “huge voice” by NPR and praise for his skills on the harmonica.

But he’s probably best-known as the inspiration for John Belushi’s character in “Saturday Night Live” sketches and the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”

Salgado, whose family moved to Oregon when he was a toddler, started his music career in the late 1960s and ‘70s in Eugene. There, he met Belushi when the actor in town filming “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Belushi had seen Salgado performing one night at a local bar, and wanted to talk.

“I didn’t know who he was,” Salgado recalled. “I didn’t know he was on ‘SNL.’ I had never heard of ‘SNL.’ However, this guy was interested in what I was doing.”

In “The Blues Brothers,” Belushi paid homage to Salgado with a character named “Curtis,” played by Cab Calloway. The Blues Brothers’ debut album, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” one of the top-selling records of 1978, is dedicated to Salgado.

Salgado went on to sing and play harmonica in The Robert Cray Band for six years, front Roomful of Blues and sing lead vocals in Santana, all the while practicing songwriting.

“I was soaking it in every day,” he said. “One day, it was pointed out to me that in order to make a name for yourself, you’ve got to start writing.”

He released the first of 10 albums after forming Curtis Salgado & the Stilettos in 1991. His songwriter influences include Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Wingy Malone, while he said his vocals seem to take after soul pioneer Sam Cooke.

“I have an amazing voice, but too bad it’s in Sam Cooke’s throat,” he said.

Salgado has dealt with health issues starting in 2006, when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He later survived lung cancer and quadruple bypass surgery, then resumed touring the nation and playing blues festivals all over the world. His latest album, “Rough Cut,” was written and performed with renowned guitarist Alan Hagar; it includes original tunes and carefully chosen blues covers, including “Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied” and Elmore James’ “You Got To Move.”

Salgado regularly performs at the Historic Everett Theatre. His Feb. 28 concert will include both original songs and covers by unsung artists, such as Bobby Parker, O.V. Wright and Sonny Boy Williamson.

Curt Shriner, the theater’s manager, said Salgado has become a local favorite — for obvious reasons.

“I keep bringing him back because he’s so damn good,” he said. “He also was born in Everett, which I love.”

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

Curtis Salgado will perform at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. Tickets are $30-$35. Call 425-258-6766 or go to www.yourhet.org.

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